Rinne Powers Preds to Win

On the strength of 33 saves from Pekka Rinne and a pair of power play goals, the Predators snapped a four-game losing streak and defeated the Coyotes, 3-0, on Tuesday night.

For the second straight game, the Preds didn’t waste much time getting on the board. They converted on a power play chance when Shea Weber collected the puck and snapped it past an out-of-position Ilya Bryzgalov. Patric Hornqvist and Steve Sullivan picked up the assists to put Nashville up 1-0 at 3:36 of the first.

Midway through the second, the Preds got their fair share of opportunities on the man advantage. After Adrian Aucoin became the third Coyote in a three-minute span to head to the penalty box, Cal O’Reilly cashed in (while five-on-three) to give the Preds a 2-0 lead. O’Reilly one-timed a pinpoint feed from Sullivan on the play. Barry Trotz used his timeout just moments before the goal.

Later on in the period, the Coyotes had a chance on the man advantage when Lee Stempniak broke in down the right wing, but Rinne stoned him by stacking the pads to keep his shutout going.

Shots were 23-15 Coyotes after two (33-23 overall), but the game was more balanced than that statistic may have showed.

Trotz’s crew really sat on his lead in the third period and didn’t allow many prime scoring chances to the Coyotes. Phoenix took three more penalties in the final frame (seven total), but the Preds could not capitalize.

At 19:35 of the third, Jordin Tootoo found the empty net to seal a 3-0 Predators win.

Post-Game Thoughts:
- The man advantage stepped up for the Preds in a big way. They went 2-for-7 on the night, but may have had their best power play night this season (besides the third period).
- Meanwhile, the penalty kill is now a perfect 24-for-24 since Nov. 16.
- Shea Weber scored just his third goal of the season and only had two points in November leading up Tuesday.
- Trotz changed up the lines a bit, and it seemed to have worked. Colin Wilson was bumped up to the top line alongside O’Reilly and Sullivan and looked more comfortable.
- Phoenix’s Ilya Bryzgalov played a nice game, making some great saves to keep his team in it. He had no chance on the two goals he surrendered.
- Jerred Smithson continues to be a force in the faceoff dot; tonight he won 14 of 20 (70%). His percentage for the year is now 58.9%.

Post-Game Quotes:
Barry Trotz on the game:
“Going into the third period we were a little tentative, just because we didn’t have too much room to breathe. Peks was really good… when the game was on the line, our best player was the difference, and that was Pekka Rinne.”

Pekka Rinne on offensive support:
“I think anytime you play offense as a five man unit, it makes me feel really comfortable. I know that the other team won’t score too many goals. That is the way we need to play.”

Shea Weber on the game:
“Peks was good. We had a sloppy third period and still need to tighten up. We got the two points and that’s what matters.”

Cal O’Reilly on his goal:
“Sully made a great pass to me there, I had the whole the net… if I would have missed that, I would have been disappointed in myself.”

Final Thoughts:
Coming into Tuesday, this was an important game for the Preds. They responded with one of their best efforts in recent memory and played a team game most of the way. In recent outings they didn’t play the full 60 minutes, which cost them in the end. Rinne was on his A-game in this one, looking as good as he has all year.

The Preds have no time to celebrate this win as they travel to division rival Columbus for an even more crucial contest on Wednesday night. They sit only three points behind the Blue Jackets and will be looking to avenge their 2-0 loss in Columbus last week.

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